What if Loki is the god of the irrepressible body? The body that speaks, sings, sways, shudders, grows, fades, pulses, aches, dies, rebirths. What if his threat to consciousness is the threat of body to dissociated mind? Oh, well, we have to suppress this body thing – thus speaks dissociated mind. And so the drama begins, culminating in Ragnarok.
Loki, then, is the enemy of denial. Yet he did not start the war. Denial started the war. We cannot accept the body as it is and so we begin to dictate terms. We begin to try to consciously manipulate the body, the sensations of the body, the pleasure and the pain. And once we begin meddling in this way we become irrevocably attached to the very sensations we are trying to regulate, dominate, do away with.
Irony of ironies! The more we fight Loki, the more his serpent coils tighten around us, make us gasp and splutter and choke. We resist the body, we refuse to know it as it is, and it comes to rule us. We armor up. We escalate the combat. The body responds in kind.
Consider the opponent process that occurs in addiction. At first the drug we use to control and dissolve the body and its sensations, to regulate and efface it, works wonderfully. Yet soon the central nervous system begins to compensate, and more drug is needed. And more. Until eventually, we need the drug not to feel “good,” not to impose our denial on the body…but rather just to avoid feeling “bad.”
At either end of the continuum we are running from our embodied experience, the serpent god Loki (is he not a serpent god? Consider his underworldly ordeal…). At either end of the continuum, our denial, our dissociation, has taken us into a conflict with the body and its spontaneous truth of flowing experience. It need not be a drug; any kind of attachment will do. Our aversions and our lusts in all their polymorphous perversities (to retrofit one of Freud’s more poetic turns of phrase).
So who makes Loki the villain? The body is not evil and the body is not good. The body just is. “It will chew you up and it will spit you out/Behold the flesh and the power it holds” (Chuck Schuldiner/Death). Perhaps the body will destroy itself, as it did in Schuldiner’s case. Yet it is our judgment that determines the meaning of even this sort of tragedy.
So who makes Loki the villain? Judgment makes Loki the villain. Denial makes Loki the villain. Ignorance of self makes Loki the villain. For we are Loki. We are the body. Only ignorance of ourselves could make ourselves a villain. Yet we are so wonderful at not even noticing that we make ourselves the enemy. The more dissociated we become in our quest for denial and control, the more self-destructive we become. As Loki is persecuted, so we persecute ourselves.
The corollary of these musings is that one’s spiritual well-being can be indexed by one’s relationship to Loki. Why do so many accept Odin, the god of strife, murder, ergi, and betrayal, yet they cannot accept Loki, their own embodied selves? Dissociation. After all, Odin and Loki are brothers in blood.
Who fears Ragnarok? It is a transformation and a healing event. It entails terrible loss, yet the loss is caused by the debt of dissociation. Without the resistance to what is, there is no need for a terrible catastrophe. Thus we are called to embrace the real as it is, to observe it without reacting, so that the bad blood can be allowed to flow free and clear, and the festering wounds can heal.
This is a remarkable and terrible discipline, this embracing and observing of what it is as it is. Loki is a remarkable and terrible god. We like to think that healing and growth are happy, safe, joyous processes, but this is dissociation again. Loki teaches us that healing is a bloody, strange, tortuous affair. We have to observe our experience, and our experience hurts. Worse, sometimes it feels good, and then when it ends, we’re addicted. Back to the opponent process, unless we’re very disciplined.
Mastery in the sense that Loki embodies is not the mastery of total obliterative domination. That notion, that idea of absolute control, is an illusion. Where in history may it be found? Only in wishful thinking and propaganda. So no, mastery is not domination. We do not gain domination through the embrace of the body. Or, for that matter, through any other means either. Domination is an illusory artifact of bifurcated consciousness.
What we gain is the willingness to be. As we are. What, does this not mean acquiescence, stagnation? This question is born from the untrusting attitude of dissociated mind. Have we so little trust in the divine materials from which the gods have woven us? Who could dare say that this remarkable thing, this body, is anything but a well-spring of divine possibility? Let us not slander it, as we have been trained to do all our lives, with accusations of fault.
If we deny the body we deny the divine. The divine as Runa – mystery. The divine and her consort, Loki. Let us heed the call to embrace the divine that is Loki. Let us embrace the body, the sensations of the body. Without resistance. Without judgement.
We will, of course, fail. There is no end to our capacity for resistance and judgment. So we must accept this failure before we begin. Ahh…and there lies the magic of Loki. For in accepting defeat, he is liberated to become more than he, or we, could know.
To become what one is. A task that defies our dissociated mind and its projections of power and control. As Nietzsche would have it, we must go under to go up. And love and accept all that we revile, lest we discard the alchemical gold of the body in our haste to shed the dross of our loss and our fear.